94 A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
attempting to kill and rob me in the dark; but I drove them off with nothing more than a walking-stick. Next day, I sat down and used my magic to discover their names. When I had done this, I collected enough evidence to have them arrested and sent to prison for five years.
"Not long ago, I was called to a haunted house where chairs and carpets and kitchen-pots were thrown about during the night by unseen beings. I set up an incense brazier and whispered my invocation to the spirits. In fifteen minutes some genii appeared. They were the cause of the trouble and I bade them go away and leave the house in peace. After that the spirits disappeared and the haunting ceased/'
The old man clapped his hands, at which a servant appeared, bringing a dish of white jellied sweet, some cakes, and tiny glasses of Persian tea.
"Is it possible to make these genii visible to an ordinary person?" I enquired across the table.
"Yes, after long preparations and much effort it can be done. The preparations finish with burning incense and slowly chanted invocations and then a genie appears out of the smoke in the darkened room and speaks in a loud voice. I no longer touch that side of magic as I am getting too old to make such tremendous efforts."
I wondered once more at this strange character who claimed to contact such weird creatures. He was certainly most uncanny. And yet, he could be very human too. For when his little granddaughter, a prettily dressed child of six, ran into the room unexpectedly, he bent down and kissed her affectionately and even condescended to play with her for a few moments.
I resumed my quest.
"What about the dangers which you mentioned before?"
He looked at me gravely.
"It is true. Whoever gains ascendancy over the genii incurs risks. The genii are not mere puppets in his hands, they are beings with an intelligence and will of their own; therefore, it is always possible they may rebel against the man who has enslaved them. Although they are entirely obedient to their master and eive willing service, if the magician loses his self-control and oecomes weak in will, or if he misuses his powers